[New York? 1829?]. Broadsheet, approximately 22 x 8.25 inches. Previously folded. Light wear and very minor closed tears at edges. One slightly larger closed tear, repaired with archival tape, at lower right edge. Light tanning and foxing. Very good. Item #933
An unrecorded variant of a rare verse broadsheet containing three distinct poems and several paragraphs of Christian advice, likely produced and distributed in New York during 1829. The first poem, whose heading is decorated by a woodcut ship and partial frame of woodcut ornaments, commemorates the explosion of the frigate Fulton, which was destroyed by the ignition of its gunpowder magazine on June 4, 1829 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, causing the deaths of approximately 100 men. Contemporary newspaper reports blamed the accident on an inexperienced gunner attempting to fire the evening salute.
The second work versifies the murder of Ursula Newman and the execution of her common law husband, Richard Johnson, on what is now Roosevelt Island, events which also took place in 1829. According to McDade, who located several pamphlets regarding the murder, "Johnson had been living with Mrs. Newman for several years. He had urged her to marry him, and, although she had had a child by him, she refused to wed him, nor would she even acknowledge that the child was his. Distracted by this and business worries, Johnson shot and killed her." The treatment of the episode rendered here is rather more poetic.
Printed on the verso of the broadsheet is a long train of religious verse and several paragraphs of prose entitled, "Christian Experience," whose overarching theme is the importance of devotion. We locate three copies of a variant broadsheet, at Brown, AAS, and in the broadside ballad collection of the New York State Library, which title the ship explosion verse as an "Awful Catastrophy," and contain a lengthier title with a woodcut of a hanged man at the head of the murder ballad, but no copies of the state in hand.